Centre to deploy chopper ambulances for forces fighting Naxals

New Delhi: The government will provide specialised helicopter ambulance service to more than 70,000 troops of paramilitary forces deployed to undertake anti-Naxal operations.

According to sources, based on a feasibility report prepared by the Union Home Ministry, it has been decided to deploy air ambulances at three "strategic" theatres of operations — Left Wing Extremism, combating insurgents in the North East and countering militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

"A squad of specialist doctors and paramedical staff will also be trained and deployed on these helicopters to evacuate and rush troops of CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and state police forces deployed in the Naxal affected areas of the country," a top officer privy to the development said.

The helicopter fleet will either be taken on lease or initially a few choppers in the present fleet of BSF air wing would be converted as air ambulances, the officer said.

The air facility will be run by the medical wing of the Home Ministry with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) acting as the nodal agency amongst all the forces.

According to senior officials, the maximum number of sorties undertaken by helicopters in Naxal affected states are to extricate injured personnel or patrol parties.

"In such cases, time is the most crucial factor. A helicopter extricates the injured personnel and flies him to the nearest hospital. With the introduction of an air ambulance service, the injured can be treated on-board or kept on life support system before rushing him to the nearest speciality hospital," the officer said.

The Home Ministry is also planning to position five vehicular fast field support hospitals` in these areas to reach the company or sub-area locations of these forces where only a handful of troops are deployed.

The Ministry recently acquired 60-acre in south Delhi for building a training school for paramedics and other medical staff of these forces which now total close to about eight-lakh personnel.